On Tuesdays, I’ve been linking up with Zenaida and Kim for their Tuesday Topics link-up about various running topics. This week was a ‘free week’ to write about whatever you want; this was perfect, as I have a farewell to a running friend that I wanted to share.
I met Phil Brown through my job at a previous employer; he worked for a technology company out of the UK that developed a system we were implementing.
*Though the company was out of the UK, he was living in the Cayman Islands.
We learned through our work together that we were both avid marathoners.
In fact, Phil had already completed a marathon on all seven continents by the time I met him, including the Antarctica Marathon. One might say that he was the inspiration to me to look into running Antarctica, which I ended up completing in 2019.
Phil also had a similar goal of running all the World Majors, which he completed before me too. (I completed my 6th World Major in NYC in 2017).
Through these similar goals and ambitions, we built a friendship through emails and social media, definitely expanding into a real friendship outside of the work we did together, though we hadn’t met in person.
We finally met in person in Tokyo of all places! We both were running the Tokyo Marathon in 2015.
It was actually quite random; we had planned to connect after the marathon, but he ended up finding me among the 40,000 runners on the course and we covered a handful of miles together! It was amazing.
We had a great time sharing 5 or so miles together in a location so foreign to both of us. He was so funny and great company.
Dustin and I ended up spending a fun night out in Kyoto, Japan with Phil and his wife, Claire. I have very fond memories of that trip, and those memories included him.
My sister Erin was also fortunate enough to have met Phil; on a family trip she took to the Cayman Islands, she met up with him for a long run. He brought her an extra headlamp (you start runs early in the heat of the Cayman Islands!) and hydration. He planned the route for her, giving lots of advice as well for what to do while visiting.
Phil’s Instagram account was mostly pictures of dogs he and his wife Claire fostered or rescued in the Cayman Islands. We definitely bonded over our shared love of dogs!
Unfortunately, Phil passed away last week from colon cancer.
He documented his battle on a blog here; be forewarned, it is sometimes difficult to read. But his wit and personality come through so strongly in his posts, despite all the terribleness he was going through.
His legacy will live on in so many ways, including two guest posts he did on my blog:
He was one of my most avid readers for awhile; I shared in my recap of the Berlin Marathon that everyone was cheering for me as “Go YESSIE!” and he jokingly called me Yessie from the day forth.
It’s incredible how running connects people from all around the globe; if it weren’t for running, I never would have met Phil Brown.
Though there’s a Phil-sized hole in the world now, I feel grateful to running to have given me the opportunity to know him.
A fond farewell to a friend.
Phil’s wife has started a fundraiser to complete 100k (walking, running, or biking) in May, raising funds for a support group called “We Get It.” All the funds will be going towards supporting local people dealing with cancer through community events, socials and goodie bags. More information HERE.
I’m so sorry for your loss. Friends we “meet” remotely and only meet in person once or never are still close and good friends and the loss is real. I’m glad you met Phil and had him in your life and that he inspired some of your amazing runs, that also inspire others.
“Virtual” friendships are most definitely still real friendships. I hope to continue his legacy of running adventures and inspiration!
This was beautiful to read and very sad at the same time. I can imagine what a fun person Phil must have been. Haha, Yessie!! Love it.
I’m so glad you could meet Phil and Claire in person – running really does unite us, no matter where we are in the world.
I’m sure Claire’s fundraiser will be a huge success!
Thank you Catrina.
A wonderful tribute for a wonderful man.
Glad you had the chance to meet him too.
I’m so sorry for your loss Jessie. 🙁 This is such a beautiful tribute and farewell to a great man. I’m so glad you met him in person and had such a special connection.
Thank you Shathiso.
I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend 🙁 Phil seemed like an amazing guy, full of positivity. This post was a great tribute to him. I’ll be keeping his family and friends in my thoughts and prayers.
Thanks Kim. He was a great guy and inspired me in many ways!
Oh Jessie…so sorry for this deep loss. It’s amazing how strong friendships can grow by those we meet online. The bonding is there, and so are all the feelings. Hugs to you.
Thank you Kim. Yes, ‘virtual’ relationships are very real!
Wow, this made me tearful! I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. So young and such a terrible disease. One of my fellow ACE ambassadors was diagnosed with colon cancer last year. A young guy with young kids. He’s doing ok, but it’s not been an easy battle. Phil sounds like a wonderful guy. Cherish those memories and honor him by continuing to chase your dreams.
Thank you Wendy. I am sorry to hear about your fellow ACE ambassador. Thinking of him and his young kids. It’s a terrible disease.
Sigh… What a difficult loss. My sympathies to his family, and to you for the loss of your friend. This was a lovely tribute.
Oh, this is sad! I read some of his blog posts.. .heartbreaking. He sounds like an amazing person. I’m sorry.
Thank you Jenny for your kind words.
I am so sorry for your loss — and it sounds like the world lost a wonderful soul with the loss of Phil.
I once ran a half where I completely randomly connected with a friend! We knew we were both running it, but she was staying with family outside of the city (Montreal) and we were staying in the city and had no real plans to get together.
It’s been so long since I though of that chance meeting!
So wonderful to have connected with Phil and his wife IRL though. Thoughts & prayers goes out to his family.
I love the chance meetings like that! I never thought he’d find me on the course, even though we were similar paces. Thanks for your kind words.
This was beautiful to read to read. Sad too. What an amazing guy!
Thank you Zenaida.
Sorry for the loss of your friend. He sounded like a wonderful guy!
Thank you Sara.
Nice tribute to a fine gentleman.
(Google search brought me to your blog, I was acquainted with Phil here on Cayman.)
Thanks for stopping by Brent. Yes, a fine gentleman.
What did you google to bring you here? Just curious!
Just seeing your reply all this time later. The google search term that brought me back here was: “phil brown cayman”